‘Falling Skies’ Review: “Evolve or Die”
‘Falling Skies’ season 4 rains down its 4th episode of the year with “Evolve or Die,” which sees Tom and Weaver make a horrifying discovery on a mission to liberate Matt, while Pope makes a new friend on the road, and Hal tests out his leadership abilities.
Last week's ‘Falling Skies’ installment, “Exodus,” saw Tom and the others putting to action their plan to escape the Espheni ghetto, while Maggie forced a confrontation with Alexis (Scarlette Byrne), and Anne came to a shocking realization of her daughter's origins..
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about 'Falling Skies' season 4, episode 4, “Evolve or Die"!
Out by an abandoned warehouse, Tom, Weaver and the survivors reunite with Cochise and his Volm remnants, hoping to make camp while Tom organizes a rescue mission for Matt. Weaver insists on coming with, knowing what Tom has gone through from his own daughter Jeannie, and Tom leaves Hal in charge. Meanwhile, team leader Kent bring Matt food in his new solitary setting, imparting his belief that the Espheni swept away the wrongs of the old world in order to provide them a fresh start, regardless of who attacked who first.
While Weaver seemingly imagines something following he, Tom and Cochise on the road, Alexis explains to Anne that their peaceful lifestyle prevents the Espheni from bearing down on their Chinatown community. Meanwhile, Hal attempts to organize a supply run among those who know the area best, but Pope disregards Hal’s inexperience by taking a pickup truck on his own to search the surrounding area.
Tom and the others observe Matt’s reeducation camp from a distance, until a mysterious Skitter-like creature incapacitates Cochise, and flees in the ensuing commotion. Weaver theorizes that he’d seen the creature following them before, as Tom remembers that certain adult humans had been made into Skitters, but reminds Weaver of their mission. Meanwhile, Dingaan Botha informs Hal of a radio transmission from Lourdes advising survivors of the Chinatown settlement, while Tector informs the two that Skitters will soon converge on their location, and the Volm intend to leave beforehand.
Pope pulls up to a seemingly abandoned home to find a number of usable gas cans, before a woman with a shotgun quickly threatens him, and invites him inside to discuss trades. Pope enjoys his first beer in some time, though the woman quickly identifies herself as Sarah, and reveals that she’d drugged the beer in order to rob Pope of his truck and move on. Meanwhile, Ben and Maggie bring Anne up to speed on her daughter’s interaction with an Overlord, for which Anne agrees to confront her Alexis over what Karen might have done to her.
Pope awakens tied to a chair, only to find that Sarah’s escape plan has been complicated by nearby Mechs, for which the two resolve to work together in order to escape, ultimately driving off in the pickup through crossfire. Meanwhile, Tom and Weaver manage to infiltrate the reeducation camp in search of Matt, though the children quickly blow their whistles rather than aid in the liberation. Mira appears and directs Tom to Matt’s isolation ward, while an unseen Weaver is pulled off by a mysterious creature. Upon finding Matt, Tom is forced to beat Kent for terrorizing his son.
Hal watches the moon and relays to Dingaan his distress with making leadership decisions, as the hardened South African escapee advises him to focus on the opportunities at hand. Meanwhile, Mira sacrifices herself for Tom and Matt by distracting the Skitter guards, allowing the father-son pair a chance to escape. Back inside the complex, Weaver awakens to find a Skitter-like creature attacking another to defend him, before Weaver recognizes the hybrid creature as his daughter, who dies of her wounds.
Deciding not to abandon his new companion Sarah, Pope returns to Hal and the others just in time to move out, Sarah even defending Pope for the bravery of his solo mission. Hal leaves behind “CROATOAN” graffiti to warn his father that they’d had to seek shelter elsewhere, leaving the warehouse behind with one of Cochise’s Volm. Over in Chinatown, Anne and Ben interrupt Alexis’ latest meeting with an Overlord, during which the creature possesses Ben to explain it and Alexis’ intent to live together peacefully. Ben recognizes the creature as lying, though Alexis’ anger causes a thunderstorm that interrupts the argument.
Cochise awakens to find Weaver returning to Tom and Matt, as Weaver reveals that the creature following them was his daughter, who has since passed, for which Matt hugs him. Elsewhere, an Overlord arrives to the warehouse that Hal and the others recently departed, grasping a volcanic-like rock that projects him into communication with the Overlord meeting with Alexis. The warehouse Overlord “Gemini” explains his intent to find the Masons, while Alexis’ contact explains that the girl will soon be ready for “transformation.” Still tied up, the second Overlord warmly confers with Alexis.
Disjointed and somewhat uneven though ‘Falling Skies’ season 4 has been in its first third, last week’s “Exodus” at least offered the promise of Tom liberating the 2nd Massachusetts rom the Espheni ghetto, while simultaneously providing our first character reunion to boost some of the weaker straggling stories of the season. “Evolve or Die” certainly runs with those ideas, quickly moving Tom and Weaver into a new q;uest that reunites with Matt and provides a few tantalizing chunks of mythology over in Chinatown, though we’re left questioning a few of the story turns toward a somewhat dire episode overall.
One the one hand, sending Tom, Weaver and Cochise to rescue Matt so early on gave a welcome return to the stronger dynamics of the third season, simultaneously highlighting some the creepier and more effective aspects of Matt’s reeducation camp as well, though it seemed especially cruel (and even somewhat superfluous) to torture Weaver yet again in establishing that his daughter had been mutated, and ultimately killed. Will Patton has long been a dark horse of pathos for the series, though Jeanne’s gruesome fate and ultimate end felt more like blows on a punching bag than any real organic tragedy, leaving us to question how much more misery Weaver might be made to endure before outliving his usefulness to the story. If nothing else, the thought of mutated characters returning to menace the protagonists is an interesting one, though the use of Jeanne seemed more like meat for the grinder than a fair way to dispose of the character, and ultimately lay the burden on someone who’d already lost his family once before.
Elsewhere, Pope’s B-story proved interesting enough in introducing Mira Sorvino’s acerbic Sarah as a fairly obvious foil, but felt somewhat like a labored excuse to retrieve a new character over focusing on Hal’s established discomfort with a leadership position. We’ve seen Hal grow and change over at least three seasons now, with a fairly linear arc comparatively (we’re looking at you, Lourdes and Pope), so it’s of interest to note that “Evolve or Die” didn’t necessarily put Hal through its titular crucible, instead focusing largely on Pope and his lady-friend while many of Hal’s decisions seemed inconsequential for the weight we were told to assign to them.
Finally, we were still ultimately glad of having Anne integrated into the Chinatown story with Alexis and the Overlords, though it’s impossible to know what to make of the left-field volcano dreamspace between the two aliens, and what it might mean for the Espheni plan going forward. Now that Hal has clued into Lourdes broadcast at least, it seems like we’re due for a reunion that may well put to rest some of these lingering oddities, but for now “Evolve or Die” still ultimately raised more questions than it solved with a brisk, if ho-hum installment.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of Skitter-y ‘Falling Skies’ action? What did you think about Sunday's latest, "Evolve or Die?" Join the discussion in the comments, and check back again next Sunday for another all-new episode recap and review of 'Falling Skies' season 4's latest, "Mind Wars" on TNT!